After prostate cancer treatment sex and intimacy is a tall order for many men and women. This is so particularly after surgery or radiation, when a large proportion of men may withdraw from their spouses or partners.
After such treatments men often feel embarrassed or compromised by treatment side effects like ED and a reduced libido. They are frustrated in part by their inability to get sexual satisfaction.
They also feel they can no longer do right by their wives or partners in terms of offering sexual fulfillment. Fearing you might disappoint your significant other can lead to self-loathing and depression.
Others feel they have been feminized by hormone treatments. Hormones like Lupron suppress testosterone to avoid feeding a malignant prostate. This intensifies the loss of libido since this and similar drugs biochemically reduce a man to castrate level. I myself found myself withdrawing this way for as long as nine months after I received a hormone injection in January 2007.
In many instances hormone treatment can lead to men discovering their breasts have grown, a condition known as gynecomastia, inelegantly referred to as "man-boobs". (For an illustration, google:images for gynecomastia.) This happened to one man I interviewed, who literally shuddered as he described his dismay.
Under such circumstances many men lose their sense of manhood, feeling they can't do right by the women in their lives. Rather than talk it out, they proceed to act in a self-defeating but understandable manner. How? They end up avoiding emotional and sexual intimacy altogether.
One simple solution among many approaches I counsel is for men and women to talk out how they need to give each other more space to be on their own, as i'll illustrate in a subsequent post. This can be quite helpful until both are able to absorb medically induced body transformations that affect their relationships.
They can communicate about such sensitive issues even when their ardor has cooled due to treatment trauma. But this is possible only if they explicitly recognize and verbally concur that underneath it all they still love each other.
Talking things out can eventually help couples set aside more intimate moments together. This is one of many approaches a couple can jointly embark upon after quality of life issues arise.
Communicating what’s uncomfortable sure beats the likelihood that one or both spouses might withdraw unilaterally for months on end or longer. Failing to communicate this way will only create greater anxiety while undermining precious relationships.